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Board adopts action plan

By David Nutter

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 29 - April 25, 1996

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors has approved a plan of action for the university that will identify and build on the strengths of the institution, integrate advanced technology into all areas of its educational mission, and build interdisciplinary partnerships across academic boundaries.

"As we plan for the future, we must be mindful that the very structures of knowledge are changing; in areas such as materials, biotechnology, the environment, and information technologies, and across the humanities and social sciences, knowledge has broken boundaries that were once assumed fixed.

"We must be prepared to collaborate, to explore, to create new partnerships, and to teach and learn in wholly new and uncharted ways if we are to prepare our students-graduate as well as undergraduate-for a world we and they can only imagine," wrote President Paul Torgersen, in his preface to the plan.

The final plan comes after seven months of planning and input across the Blacksburg campus. In August 1995, the board directed Torgersen to develop a plan of action to guide the university into the next millennium. A draft was developed and circulated across the campus, followed by meetings with the faculty and staff. Torgersen transmitted the document to the board in February for its review.

In laying out his vision for the university, Torgersen recognized that Virginia Tech will remain nationally recognized as a major research university, highly ranked in terms of overall research expenditures and especially prominent in selected areas of study. "Building on its land-grant mission," the documents said, "Virginia Tech will be the leading provider of outreach services in the commonwealth and will actively respond to the state's need for economic development assistance."

Torgersen's vision for the university includes an aggressive pursuit of excellence in its undergraduate and graduate programs, but not the continual addition of new degree programs.

Torgersen said that while Virginia Tech will continue its strong commitment to graduate education, the university must remain sensitive to the employment prospects of Ph.D. students.

In laying out basic tenants of its future growth and direction, the plans calls for enhancing the university's status as one of the leading innovators nationally in the application of advanced communications and information technologies to its mission of instruction, research, and outreach.

Specifically, the plan says that:

* Virginia Tech will promote a global perspective throughout the university; further internationalizing the curriculum, increasing student exchanges, expanding faculty involvement in international scholarship, forging partnerships with alumni and others having international ties, and advancing international development.

* Virginia Tech will position itself as the leading provider of outreach services in the commonwealth by reconceptualizing and restructuring the service component of our land-grant mission.

* Virginia Tech will encourage interdisciplinary collaboration within the university to create knowledge that addresses the needs of society; at the same time, we will increase strategic partnerships with K-12 schools, other colleges and universities, business, industry, and government to find solutions to problems of the rapidly changing world.

* Virginia Tech reaffirms the principals of liberal education as articulated in the University Core Curriculum Statement of Purpose, to incorporate into the curriculum personal, academic, and professional ethics.

* The document projects a slight rise in enrollment, with stabilization at 25,000 students at its Blacksburg campus. It also says that we will strengthen the Corps of Cadets, calling on the Corps alumni base to help grow the membership to 1,000 by the year 2000.

Torgersen reiterated that Virginia Tech will remain a residential campus. "Distance learning is a part of our mission, but the shared experience of being a student in Blacksburg is what binds us together," he said.

In his preface, Torgersen wrote: "This plan is not a roadmap to a fixed destination. It is rather a set of strategies which provide every member of the university community an opportunity for meaningful participation in carrying out our mission. Virginia Tech functions as a work in progress-one in which each of us can help shape positive change."